The family of a Chicago man that was killed brutally by a drunk driver who’d admitted he was an illegal alien during a previous stop for drunk driving has teamed up with a well-known conservative watchdog group to sue the Cook County Sheriff’s Office for failing to follow the Constitution when the Cook County Sheriff’s office refused to honor an official demand that this individual be held from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
This official request is called an ICE detainer. ICE issues a detainer, or a two extra day hold, on any individual held in any municipal prison it believes is also in the country illegally or should otherwise
ICE placed a detainer on the suspect, Saul Chavez, in the summer of 2011, after he was picked up at the scene and a blood alcohol test revealed he was quite drunk. Chavez was originally booked on $250,000 bond, meaning $25,000 would bail him out. Initially, Chavez remained in prison but his family raised the money in November 2011. Normally, Chavez would have been held for two more days even though he’d paid his bail.
The detainer was ignored after the Cook County Board voted a new local ordinance in September, 2011. As a result, Chavez was allowed to make in bond in November of 2011. After he missed his next court date, he was considered a fugitive and he’s now assumed to be in Mexico.
On Monday McCann’s family, with the help of Judicial Watch, filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit, Brian McCann v. Thomas J. Dart, it’s being brought in Illinois Circuit Court, said the lawyer for Judicial Watch, because the plaintiffs were taking advantage of an Illinois law that allows individuals to sue their elected officials if they fail to duty their Constitutionally mandated duty.
At issue was a decision by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to ignore an ICE detainer that was placed on Saul Chavez by ICE in the summer of 2011. Dart said that he ignored the detainer because a local new Cook County ordinance passed in September 2011. The lawsuit argues that federal immigration law trumps any local ordinance and that Dart was compelled to follow the federal immigration policy.
In June 2011, Chavez slammed into Denny McCann as McCann attempted to cross a Chicago street while Chavez was driving drunk. Chavez dragged McCann about two hundred feet before McCann died. When he was picked up at the scene later that evening, Chavez registered a .29 blood alcohol level, more than three times to .08 legal limit.
Chavez had already been convicted of DUI from an incident in 2007 when he admitted to Chicago police he was in the country illegally.
“I live in Chicago on Kedzie [Street]. I don’t have a driver’s license because I don’t have papers,” read the pertinent portion of the police report in Chavez’s original arrest.
No one from ICE was contacted by local officials at the time of the initial 2007 arrest.
According to Brian McCann, Denny McCann’s brother, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office told at the time of Chavez’s arrest that the office intended to prosecute Chavez and expected him to serve between three and six years in prison.
The Cook County ordinance argued that ICE detainers are merely requests not mandates but Judicial Watch said the statute creating detainers clearly said “shall” not “may”, the language indicating a request.
Cook County is not the only example of a far left locality flaunting cooperation of enforcement of immigration laws it doesn’t like. All could be effected if Judicial Watch prevails in their claim.
In July 2012, Washington D.C.’s local elected officials passed an ordinance similar to one passed in Cook County. There are similar, though notably less radical, ordinances in Santa Clara County, San Francisco County, New York State, and the State of California nearly passed a similar statewide law last year.
At a press conference announcing the lawsuit on Monday April, 22, 2013, the largely Chicago area media mostly recycled a number of talking points made by proponents of the controversial Cook County ordinance passed in September, 2011, that set all this in motion.
One repeated talking point was the idea that this case shows that it is bond and bail policy that needs reform and not immigration policy. Routinely, it’s been pointed out that bond and bail policy is a local issue, and is totally separate of whether or not an ICE detainer should be honored.
Another question pointed to a study that claimed that the recidivism rate in the illegal alien community is smaller than the recidivism rate in the normal population. Opponents of the ordinance have also argued routinely that this study is also a red herring. While the recidivism rate maybe lower, the United States has tools for illegal immigrants that can make the recidivism rate zero. No one is suggesting giving someone with a DUI life in prison even though we know that some of those that commit a DUI will kill someone while driving drunk sometime in the future. The United States does have that tool if that drunk driver is also an illegal alien.
A local reporter even tried to claim the wildly misreported idea that Chavez would have just been deported to Mexico anyway, if the ICE detainer were honored. Even Wikipedia has misreported this claim.
In fact, the Cook County State’s Attorney in charge of this case would only have had to write a formal request asking the immigration judge to hold off on enforcing any immigration order until the criminal proceedings were fully adjudicated including incarceration. That request would have been addressed by the judge and almost certainly honored.
In that case, Chavez would have remained in immigration custody throughout his criminal proceedings until he was set to serve his sentence. That information was confirmed by calling the offices of ICE and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Finally, Chicago media claimed that a previous Indiana federal court ruling from 2010, stated unequivocally that ICE detainers were not a mandate but a request. First, Judicial Watch stated that the original bill that created ICE detainers used the word, “shall”, and Paul Orfanedes, an attorney and Director of Litigation for Judicial Watch, pointed out again that the case in Indiana was akin to the case in Arizona.
In that, the case in Indiana decided whether or not localities could go beyond what federal immigration officials were allowed to go, and it had nothing to do with the legality of ICE detainers.
While this case never quite gained the national media attention that other similar crimes achieved, it should be noted that one radical immigration policy contributed to the death of Denny McCann and a second, wholly separate though ideologically exact, contributed directly to alleged perpetrator’s release and subsequent escape. It’s hard to find a case with clearer evidence of the radical immigration policies of those in places like Cook County and places like it.
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